The Cherry Orchard


Addiscombe College

The New Church

An extensive history of Addiscombe is given in "The Book of Addiscombe" published at the end of 2000. This compendium contains many old photographs and maps of the area at various periods. The following is a brief synopsis which concentrates on the reasons for the growth of population in the mid 19th century and the need for churches to serve the expanding community.

Addiscombe was originally 'Adgecomb" or Adscomb; meaning "Edge of the Coombe". When Elizabeth I reigned in England, Addiscombe was a country estate just a mile from Croydon on the Shirley Road, owned by the Heron family. Sir Nicholas Heron, who died in 1586, was interred in Heron's chapel in Croydon Parish Church. After the death of the last of the Herons, the estate became the residence of successive benefactors.

In the 15 Century, a large area (280 acres) of Common Land extended from Selhurst to Broad Green (E to W), and Whitehorse to Cherry Orchard Road (N to S) which was used for grazing. The Parish (of Croydon) employed a herdsman and charged rates appropriate to the animal (e.g. a horse: or cow; 1/-2d, Entry to Croydon Heath (or Croydon Common: was controlled by gates. Newgate stood near Spurgeon+s Chapel and the present Wellesley Road was called Newgate Lane, becoming New Lane. Middleheath Gate stood near St James' church, and Cony Lane Gate stood at the junction of Cross Road and Cherry Orchard Road (then called Cony Lane. In later centuries, a large cherry tree orchard covered the southern part of the common and extended north of the line of George Street and when the fruit was ripe, a Cherry Fair was held near where the NLA Tower now stands. Cony Lane was renamed Cherry Orchard Road as a result.

With the advent of the railways in the 1830's, Cherry Orchard Road ceased to be a quiet rural lane and railway workers+ cottages sprang up, many with the still-visible date of 1838.
Click on map to enlarge
Towards the end of the l8th Century, the area was still heavily wooded, with pleasant lanes and hedgerows .Between Addiscombe and Cherry Orchard and Lebanon Roads, Captain John Brickwood built his mansion 'well back from the road amongst stately trees which shielded his property from the gaze of the vulgar' (to quote the Parish magazine of 1947). There was a prospect toward Penge and Beckenham over a lake to pleasantly wooded hills. Captain Brickwood was notable for his organisation of a local militia (a forerunner of the Home Guard) in readiness for any Napoleonic invasion. Subsequently, the house was owned by Sir Benjamin Hallowell, one of Nelson's admirals at Trafalgar. (Brickwood grounds can be sen at the left hand side of the 1850 map above).

The estate was eventually sold off in 1907/8 as lots for building development, and the area became traversed by roads, such as Lebanon, Cedar, Blake, and of course, Brickwood Road.

The Heron mansion house (at the corner of Outram Road and Mulberry Lane) was rebuilt in 1702 by the Draper family, who were well known in high society. In 1809, the then owner, Emelius Henry Radcliffe sold the house to the East India Company and the mansion became surrounded by other college buildings. Pembroke Lodge now stands on the site of the original mansion. The house was leased at one time~ to one of Pitt's ministers. George III and Prime Minister Pitt frequently stayed at the house. The estate can be seen at the centre right of the 1850 map above.

click on image to enlarge


The Mansion: the house was reputedly very finely detailed internally, with intricate plasterwork, fine staircases and fireplaces.
Other sites locally are connected with the College: Addiscombe House in Mulberry Lane had an underground passage to the mansion. Its garden contained the stump of a Mulberry tree - the first ever imported into England by Peter the Great who stayed here. The tree gave the name to Mulberry Lane.

"The Elms" on Addiscombe Road is a very old cottage and was probably used as a master's residence during the college era.

Havelock Hall was the college gymnasium . It was used as the early meeting place of the breakaway St Paul's congregation; the precursor of St Mary Magdalene. This building was converted into flats in the 1990s.
Click on image to enlarge The gymnasium of Addiscombe College now at the lower end of Havelock Road - the first venue for St Paul's
At the top of Northampton Road, where "Sandy Bank" now stands, used to be Ashburton Lodge, named after the family. Lady Ashburton was associated with Dickens, Ruskin, Carlyle, Moody, Sankey and other public figures of the day. In the grounds of 'Hazelwood' is a wall where cadets of the college inscribed their names in 1857 while enjoying an 'out of bounds' smoke.

There was a small chapel attached to the college and to this, cadets paraded each morning and evening for a service conducted by the chaplain. On Sundays, cadets went down to the Parish Church in Croydon. By 1827, it became clear that Croydon Parish Church was too far away to minister to the college needs and St James' Parish Church was built and consecrated on 31st January 1829. The population of Addiscombe at this time was about 1000.

Following the Indian Mutiny, Sandhurst and Woolwich were considered adequate for future training of cadets so the college closed in 1861.The estate was sold to the British Land Company and broken up. Speculators built houses, naming the streets after famous British leaders in India: Canning, Clyde, Elgin, Havelock, Outram, Grant, Nicholson, Warren and Hastings, although none of these appear to have had any real connection with the College itself.


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